A Happy Christmas to all our members, THE elected representatives and friends! HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY newsletter NUMBER 118 WINTER 2000/2001 Whose Heritage? ONCE A YEAR, Wycombe District Council, assisted by independent architectural advisers, marks high quality design and heritage work in the District with a series of awards – the Malcolm Dean Design, Landscape and Social Housing Awards, and the Jack Scruton Heritage Award. The entries this year were of a particularly high quality. The decrepit former post office in Easton Street, once a town house of the Dashwood family, has at last been elegantly transformed into Rigs Wine Bar. The Old Fire Station in Aveling Road has been converted into a handsome company headquarters, Rye Mill Garage has acquired a pleasing new showroom and offices, and out of town, a superb barn conversion in Wheeler End won the Jack Scruton Award (see p.4). Jack loved the town, but he surely appreciated beauty in the countryside too. The District Council's role in all this is not limited to the awards themselves. No doubt winning awards does encourage architectural practices and, indeed, their very existence must foster a competitive spirit amongst professionals. As we heard at our last quarterly meeting (see p.9), however, valuable work is also done by the Conservation Officer to encourage, advise and perhaps cajole property owners into making the best of our built heritage, and the system of listed building consents, administered in Wycombe by the District Council, serves us well. But there is always room to do even more. On pages 8 and 11 we recount the tale of the annual Heritage Weekend in September. A great deal of work by our Hon. Secretary, assisted with great commitment by the District Council's Heritage Officer, meant that Wycombe was not completely left out of this national event, sponsored by the Civic Trust. But ours was a small event and poorly attended. We learnt from our colleagues in the Association of North Thames Amenity Societies that many other towns achieve a great deal more. The Marlow Society has had too many people traipsing through buildings that have been opened for the weekend, and the Chesham Society has even begun issuing tickets! They have had more success than we in getting public access to their historic buildings, and they have also managed to draw in the visitors. There is clearly more that we as a Society can do in approaching local owners. But informing the people of the town is a real problem. Getting posters on to the town's notice boards seems to be a total lottery, and getting publicity in the local press is no less haphazard. Making the most of our heritage needs commitment from all of us. Chris Woodman …caring about our town: past, present and future Registered Charity No. 257897 Honorary Secretary: Frances Presland, 61 Hicks Farm Rise, High Wycombe, Bucks. HP13 7SX. Tel: (01494) 523263 THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 2 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Planning Local Plan Public Inquiry YES, THE long-awaited Local Plan Public Inquiry has opened at last! Since its opening on 3 October, there have been 10 sitting days. Perhaps the pace has been leisurely – the Inquiry sits for only 3½ days a week, and the two Inspectors do not sit simultaneously. But the benefit, hopefully, is that they will be writing their report as they go along and there will not be too many months to wait for the final report after the inquiry ends in mid-2001. The inquiry sits in two modes. Formal hearings District Council. Tesco's existing store is, of are the norm, and are like court hearings. course, to be compulsorily purchased. Tesco have Advocates question witnesses, who may then been offered a 1500 square metre "basket store" be cross-examined by the other side (although in the Western Sector but claimed it was not objectors may represent themselves if they enough. It turned out that the District Council wish). The Inspector intervenes only to ask have suggested they could have 2400 m2 – as big important questions that the advocates have as their existing ground floor, but for Tesco this missed. In informal sessions, however, the was still not enough. The battle continues, but the Inspector chairs the meeting around a table, important action is said to be behind the scenes. and it is he who asks the questions, while both On 6 October, our John Gore (see p.3) was sides may put their points of view. preceded by our member Sheila Latimer of the Both the Inspectors at this inquiry have been Bassetsbury Area Protection Group, who opposed admirably approachable and reasonable. all development on the Sewage Works site. However, it has become fairly clear that small On 17 October there was an absorbing session on objectors such as individuals, or our Society, Downley. An individual resident, Mr Lambert, will probably do best by asking for informal opposed the allocation of Turner's Field (next to hearings. The informal hearings are driven by The Downley School), for housing. He had clearly the Inspector's desire to get at the truth, and done a great deal of homework and stood up there is plenty of opportunity to put additional particularly well to cross-examination. A points. The formal sessions are driven by the disappointing aspect of the session was that it left advocate's duty to put one point of view, the the impression that, not withstanding the Village right of reply is very formalised and important Design Statement, the District Council regards points can get missed. Downley as just another part of High Wycombe. The District Council plays a central role in the inquiry. It is WDC officers' job, in giving 31 October and 1 November were taken up with evidence or presenting consultants as another set-piece retailer's struggle, over the witnesses, to defend the Local Plan as future of Waitrose in Marlow. Having applied to deposited (and amended by pre-inquiry extend their existing store in the mid-1990s, changes – PICs). Before each hearing, they Waitrose have since purchased land to the west of prepare written "rebuttal evidence" which is the High Street and want to build a new store passed to the relevant objectors. When the there, saying extension is not viable. The District Inquiry is over, the Inspectors' report will Council, having opposed Waitrose earlier, now propose changes to the Council's plan which wants them to extend! the Council is more or less obliged to accept. There was more of Marlow on 3 November. The The Quarterly Planning report on p.3 describes Marlow Group (an ad hoc group of mainly retired the sessions in which the Society participated. professionals, distinct from the Marlow Society), But there has been much of interest on other opposed Waitrose's plans, and advocated better days. The public gallery in the Council pedestrian and cycling links around the town. Chamber always has plenty of room and, On 14 November, the Grange Action Group made indeed, the public are invited to sit closer to the first of a number of formal appearances to proceedings if they wish. propose changes that, they felt, would reduce On the first day, 3 October, the East of pressure to build on Grange Farm in the future. Amersham Hill Residents' Association And the Gomm Valley Residents Group sought described the difficulties caused when planning changes to the Plan that would help prevent applicants used out-of-date maps and got it Tylers Green and Penn from merging into the agreed that a Code of Practice should be High Wycombe urban area. drawn up to cover this. Do feel free to join your Editor in the public On 5 October, continued on 11 October, there gallery! A fuller account of all this is on our web was a titanic battle between Tesco and the site (www.highwycombesociety.org.uk). THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 3 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Planning This Quarter THE PLANNING GROUP has continued to meet built into the Plan to react to changing each month to discuss planning issues arising circumstances. Our point that rooms in Houses from the emerging District Local Plan and in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) should be current planning applications. included in the housing statistics as dwellings and thus lead to a reduction in new houses Public Inquiry into Wycombe District Local Plan required was supported by WDC. to 2001 The most notable event in the planning calendar in the past three months has, of We have also submitted written representations course, been the opening of the Public Inquiry on the Copperfields development and on the into the Wycombe District Local Plan to 2011. housing policy concerned with creating balanced The Inquiry finally opened on 3 October under communities. Mr Geoff Salter, an Inspector with the Planning The Public Inquiry continues well into 2001. Inspectorate, assisted by a colleague, another Inspector, Mr John MacBryde. Between them Sainsbury’s redevelopment This quarter has they will hear all of the objectors to the Local seen the submission of a planning application by Plan who have opted to appear in person, and Sainsbury’s which, if permitted, would have a will also consider all written objections before tremendous effect on High Wycombe town completing their report. Bearing in mind the centre, matching that of the Western Sector importance of this Inquiry in confirming or itself. Sainsbury’s hope to replace their existing formulating planning policy for the Wycombe store on Dovecot Road by a much larger one, District up until 2011, one would have expected which would take in the ground floor of the representatives of the local press to have been Dovecot multi-storey car park and extend present in force, but at most of the sessions to through to a new frontage on Oxford Road, date it has been solely your conscientious High opposite the Western Sector, possibly with a Wycombe Society Newsletter Editor, Chris footbridge over the road. Besides incorporating Woodman, in the public gallery taking notes. a restaurant, a petrol filling station and 980 car parking spaces, the new development would My first appearance at the Inquiry was on 6 include 58 one- and two-bedroom flats – a October in support of the Society’s objection to proposal which we have commended as making retail warehousing on the former Gas Works and a significant contribution to local housing needs Wycombe Marsh (paper mill and sewage treat- and a boost to the vitality of the town centre. ment works) sites. We considered that retail warehouses on the Gas Works site would In view of the importance of this proposed compete unfairly with town centre and Western development, we have suggested that the Sector shops, and that the land could be put to developers should hold a public meeting to better use for leisure activities for young people. explain their proposals and listen to public We also thought that retail warehousing would reaction. Meanwhile, we have expressed be unsuitable at Wycombe Marsh alongside the disappointment at the style of the architectural housing of ‘high standard’, which the Council design on the Oxford Road frontage. This also proposes for this site. During the elevation has a very mechanical, almost interchange of views, it emerged that one of the computer-designed, appearance, with artificial- main factors in calling for retail warehousing looking winged roofs to give some animation. It was that it would raise more money than other is doubtful if it will relate well to the Western forms of development for cleaning up these Sector, whose design, we are told, will reflect polluted sites. It remains to be seen what the local traditional styles. Inspector will recommend. Other planning applications Apart from the Rye Environment Centre planning application, which My next appearance was on 10 October for the is dealt with elsewhere in this Newsletter, we Housing Round Table, when Geoff Salter chaired considered several others, including The a meeting of representatives of a number of Courtyard, Frogmoor and the Esso service developers and builders, County and District stations at Terriers and Marlow Road, High Council officers, and environmental and resid- Wycombe. ents’ groups, such as ourselves. The developers’ main theme was that the District Plan did not At The Courtyard, the former Parker-Knoll meet the County Strategic Plan housing alloc- offices, it is proposed to demolish the offices at ations in full, so additional greenfield sites the rear and replace them with a six-storey block should be allocated. This the Council of flats. We supported the idea of residential representatives commendably resisted, development in the town centre, but we contending that sufficient flexibility was being commented on the height of the block, asking THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 4 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 for guidelines on building height to be set so respectively (i) as tending to have an adverse that traditional buildings are not overshadowed. effect on the viability of local shops at Terriers and (ii) as being likely to exacerbate traffic At both the Esso service stations it is proposed problems at the Desborough Avenue/Marlow to build Tesco Express shops, with additional Road junction. car parking. We have objected to these John Gore Pann Mill Quo Vadis? HAVING ACHIEVED our long term goal of milling This year a group of helpers met on a rare, dry, flour again at Pann Mill, the question arises, crisp evening at the mill to enjoy a barbecue, "Where do we go from here?" fireworks and a glass of wine under the pretext How often shall we mill? What market is there for of supervising the bonfire. our stone ground flour? How secure is the Whilst many in the district have suffered from Society's lease of the Mill? Discussions flooding, the Wye stream (though full to concerning a rent or lease of the site have been capacity) has caused us no problem at all. This ongoing for two years. may seem hard to believe but every single In 2001 we will be continuing with our Sunday morning work party in the year 2000 has fortnightly work parties and have fixed the dates been dry and mainly sunny. for milling. They are: Myra King National Mills Day Sun. 13th May Design and Heritage Awards 2000 Midsummer Sun. 15th July Wycombe Show Sun. 2nd September Once a year, the District Council makes awards for the best architecture created in the district in the past 12 months. The joint winners of the Malcolm Dean Design Awards were The Old Fire Station in Aveling Road and Rye Mill Garage on London Road, and the Malcolm Dean Landscape Award went to The Disraeli School, The Pastures. The runner-up for the Jack Scruton Heritage Award is the conversion of Rigs Wine Bar in Easton Street. This was originally a late- 18th Century town house for the Dashwood family. In 1842 it became a post office. The winner was Huckenden Farm Barn at Wheeler End. The citation states, "An 'idealistic' repair of a Grade II listed oak-framed barn, employing 'vernacular' methods and materials, and its Our 18 year old workshop is in need of a new conversion to a dwelling. To preserve its integrity roof or replacement with a new permanent, as a barn, there is to be no subdivision of its larger structure. Within the present workshop we interior." have a number of ancient grain cleaners, one of It is a beautiful building with a truly cavernous which is being renovated at present. We are interior. lucky to have a complete grain cleaner made by Cooch and Sons of Northampton (see photo). Inside the Mill itself we need to create a mechanism for raising and lowering the sluice board, which governs the speed of the millstones. Today the sluice is operated from outside the mill building, which is impractical for the miller. Winter is the time when most of our mainten- ance work is carried out. Repainting, repairs and tree pruning are yearly necessities. Leaves and boughs brought down in the wind are heaped in the dry leat for our November bonfire. Huckenden Farm Barn, Wheeler End THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 5 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 The Rye Environment Centre - Update MOST OF YOU will by now have heard that on 18 October the District Council eventually gave approval for the conversion of the former café building in the Holywell Mead swimming pool complex into an Environment Centre. A great deal of our last issue was taken up with a description of this project and our concerns about it. We had five main concerns – the building's design, the impact of security measures, the impact of visitors, features external to the site such as signage, and the long-term future of the centre. Here is a description – which we owe to you, our members, and which also deserves to be part of the historical record – of the steps leading up to the Council's decision. On 9 September, we wrote to certain Councillors Councillors had clearly studied our letter to and WDC Directors about our five main areas of them, and drew on the points we had made. concern seeking a meeting. Our request was (Many welcomed the contribution our Society granted and we met senior officers, together makes to the town.) A number said the build- with the BBOWT project director, Nick Forster, ing's design was unsatisfactory (one even said on 28 September. There was a measure of "ghastly"), but the greatest concern was ex- sympathy for all our points. The Planning Officer pressed about the impact of visitors by vehicle. seemed to be concerned about the design Other Councillors felt the project was exciting (which he had not seen before) and how it would and would be an educational asset for the relate to its surroundings. Nobody seemed to young, and decried the opposition to the project. want intrusive security lighting. Nobody After Councillors had spoken, it fell to officers to professed enthusiasm for interpretation boards reply to the questions raised. At that point, it on the Rye but, on the other hand, it was pointed became increasingly clear that there was no out that planning consent would not be required. intention to make it easy for Councillors to reject No commercial use was envisaged. Council the application. They were advised that, for a Officers believed that schoolchildren would rejection to be robust against appeal (and arrive by coaches which would not hang around payment of an appellant's costs), they must give after dropping them off. They also believed the Centre itself would be viable in the long term, Correction – and the lessons but that the same might not be true of the swimming pool complex as a whole: this was to In the rush to put together the extended Autumn be addressed by a report of the Council's Best issue of the Newsletter, some inaccuracies crept Value Committee in December. in. In particular, it may have been misleading to suggest that the project had "grown" during At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that we 2000: the planning application granted in late would receive a letter from the Council and 1999 was no smaller than the design now BBOWT addressing these points. In the event, approved and would have contained offices, but we received only a partial reply, from BBOWT it was designed in the style of the existing alone. We then took the only course open to us – buildings. Furthermore the Business Plan, which we opposed the application, and wrote to all is the basis of our concerns about traffic etc, is Councillors expressing our concerns. unchanged since 1999 (although we understand The Planning Applications Panel considered the that a completely new Business Plan will now be application on 18 October. The Planning required as the basis for implementation). We Officer's written report recommended are sorry for these mistakes. acceptance, while giving full space to our The Executive Committee has learnt from this objections and recognising that there was scope whole experience. Our biggest mistake was that, for an alternative conclusion (which sat oddly focusing on the design, we did not oppose the with subsequent events). After John Gore and earlier application which, it turned out, had Nick Forster had had their 3 minutes to speak, "established the principle". Once the principle of the first Councillor to speak moved rejection conversion to an Environment Centre had been which was quickly seconded, and thereafter the approved, the grounds on which we could discussion seemed to be evenly balanced. Many oppose the project were greatly narrowed. The café building is the only two-storey building in the swimming pool complex. The conversion will make it more bulky than before, as shown on the left in this scale drawing by Colin Dobinson. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 6 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 reasons for their rejection. Concern about So the Councillor who had originally seconded "impact on the character of the Rye" was not the motion to reject withdrew, and eventually enough: what sort of impact? And the trump just one Councillor (Cllr Lambourne) was left card was played. The previous application for maintaining his opposition. The application was conversion to an Environment Centre that had granted. been granted in late 1999 by "delegated The one good point about the evening was that procedure" – i.e. without Councillors being practically all Councillors speaking, even those personally involved – established the principle of who supported the project from the start, clearly change of use, and there was no reason to think shared many of our concerns. Perhaps that will the new design would attract any more visitors stand us in good stead. than the earlier design. So there could be no grounds for rejection on the basis of visitor and On 9 November we attended a meeting of the vehicle impact. "wider group" that is monitoring the project, and The one factor that had changed since the on 6 December we are to attend a meeting of earlier application was, of course, the building's potential trustees for the project. The important design, which several Councillors had criticised. point now will be for us to be involved in a way It was astonishing that, given the evident that allows us to influence how the project is frustration of Councillors who found themselves implemented, and to do our best to minimise with no valid grounds for objection, Council the risks that we identified in opposing the Officers did not point this out. It was scarcely project, and with which Councillors expressed so less surprising that no Councillors noticed it, or much sympathy. if they did, they failed to mention it. ANTAS District Council Open Day The Association of North Thames Amenity For 3 hours on the afternoon of 11 September Societies held its 2000 AGM on 21 October in the District Council opened its doors to the Hertford, in the beautiful Quaker Meeting House public. One could turn up and be taken on a in Railway Street. This is the oldest QMH still in half-hour tour of the Council Offices, and meet use anywhere in the world, built by amateurs in some of the officers who are at the sharp end of 1670, at a time when all the leading Hertford the Council's operations. Quakers were in prison due to the religious Well, actually we were taken on a fascinating intolerance of the time. The building came close two-hour tour. We saw the CCTV control room. to collapse a few years ago and had to be We were introduced to the Geographical strengthened by a successfully discreet internal Information System where every property in the steel frame. Do visit it! District is depicted in detail along with data on There was the usual valuable exchange of Listed Buildings, Tree Preservation Orders, you information. Many North Thames towns had had name it. We saw the centre where alarm calls more successful Heritage weekends than we. from elderly people with special telephones are Chesham had to resort to issuing tickets to limit monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We the numbers. It seems that personal approaches heard about the impressive work on Community to buildings' owners are essential. Development in Lane End, Micklefield and We heard of an interesting new wheeze by ever- Castlefield. We saw pollution monitoring, Agenda resourceful house-builders in St Albans. There 21, much else. After our tour we joined leading was a planning application for land along Councillors for a cup of coffee. people's back gardens to be fenced off, broken The bad news was that a mere 8 members of the into strips and sold to the homeowners. It would public turned up! For reasons outside the thus no be longer green space and could then be Council's control, the event had been twice bought back for development! Everyone would rescheduled. There had been publicity but, as so win, except the environment! often in this town, it evidently failed. Oh dear, The meeting was rounded off by a talk by the why can't the Bucks Free Press do just a little Local Authority Executive for the Empty Homes more? Agency. Many local authorities have an Empty Property Strategy Officer who cajoles owners of If the event is to be repeated in 2001, we will empty property into putting them into use, with publicise it in this Newsletter. That might just compulsory purchase as a last resort. make a little bit of difference! Will you be a Friend of the Rye? The Friends of the Rye Group is looking for new members. If you want to preserve the Rye, whether by active campaigning, delving into its fascinating history, monitoring what goes on there or simply by contributing thoughtfully to the discussion, please come along to the next meeting of the Group. Contact the leader, Frances Presland, on 01494 523263. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 7 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Transport The Busway will be able to come into use, and it is planned that, when the Western Sector is complete, THE SECOND WEEK of October saw an buses stopping at the Railway Station will then exhibition in the front foyer to the Council pass through the town centre to the new bus Offices of the new busway which is jointly interchange in Bridge Street. In short, buses proposed by Bucks County Council and will be better integrated, not only with rail Wycombe District Council. This is a favourite transport, but with the town centre too. project of the two Councils, one on which they The project is not without controversy. It will are working enthusiastically together, and is pass close to some houses behind London the first part of a grand design to adapt Road, and some residents (who had been Wycombe's bus services to the Western Sector informed direct of the exhibition) were clearly development and improve the interchange with concerned that they would be overlooked by rail services. Following the line of the former passengers on the bus, and about lighting at High Wycombe to Bourne End railway line, the night. bus lane will leave the A40 at Spring Gardens, run along the south side of the G-Plan site, The Society's main concern has been to down to and across Gordon Road at a preserve the possibility of the restoration of conventional junction, and then up again, close some kind of light rail link along the former to the active High Wycombe to London railway railway line all the way to Bourne End. The line, along the edge of what is now the station County Council has been, to say the least, car park and into the station forecourt. unenthusiastic about this (even though the economics and general attractiveness of light railways have very markedly improved in the past few years as experience has shown how effective they are in attracting drivers away from their cars). A light railway (or tramway) could share the busway with buses: for most of its length the busway will not be open to other vehicles, but except for a small stretch close to the station, it will be wide enough for buses to pass in each direction. However, a tramway would probably need a bridge to be restored Julian Hartless of BCC and Elsa Woodward of the over Gordon Road. There was originally plenty Transport Group enjoying their discussion! of room for this, but the County Council would The project will mean valuable time savings for not protect the line and therefore the buses coming from the east, and it is also redevelopment of the G-Plan site made no intended that buses from the north will go via provision for it. The Transport Group have Bowerdean Road and turn into the busway been trying to determine whether this can be from Gordon Road. achieved using the land that is still available It is, of course, essential that the Station Forecourt is re-designed as an effective interchange. This is planned to be part of a general plan to redevelop this area, involving the demolition of the ATS Tyres premises, the construction by J Laing of an office block set Proposed back from Amersham Hill, and a purpose- Fence Possible Environmental designed interchange for buses and taxis Proposed Barrier including provision for private cars to drop off Barrier rail passengers. Currently, this part of the overall design is held up over the loss of car parking spaces due to the office block and the Existing Railtrack sidings to be abandoned busway: the Rail Regulator requires these to be replaced. Little has become public about this Cross-section through the busway at the "pinch point" yet, but the District Council's financial where traffic lights will be needed. provisions for 2001/02 and beyond, just agreed, include a sum of £3.5 million for car and, at the same time, we are pressing the parking. One possible use for this money is County Council to take a more open position "decking" – i.e. building a second storey above on the light rail project as a whole. or below one of the station car parks – most The timetable for the busway is for planning likely that in Duke Street. permission to be applied for in Spring 2001 Once the station is redeveloped, the busway and the scheme to open in late 2003. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 8 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Heritage Weekend 2000 The date was changed to 16-17 September. Local firms were not very interested. !!! Quiz Time !!! Co-operation with other organisations seemed to go missing. The local Press did not seem to Calling all children 1 – 15 years old… A £5 want to know. And Sunday 17th turned out to W H Smith token is available if you can answer be Battle of Britain day, with the area around the following question. the Parish Church blocked. Oh, I forgot to mention, the market stalls were all still in place "Where and what are the on Sunday morning – those responsible for tidying up had had a party the night before. Rupert Gates?” But in spite of this, the High Wycombe Society Send your answers to the Editor (address on put on a creditable show, with help from Jo back page) by 31 December. The first correct Tiddy of Wycombe District Council. There were answer out of the bag will win. two Town Trails on each day, from the Museum and from the Church. Thanks to those who led Questions set by Pauline Cauvain of our Heritage Group. those groups. And under the Little Market Last issue’s question was “What area in the town centre is House was an interesting display of painted known as 'the Canal'?" Maybe this was more difficult than glass, love spoons, wood turning, pomanders usual – there were no responses. "The Canal" was an earlier (to deter the Plague), potted plants (with pretty name for the area known as Frogmoor. pots), marzipan fruits and appropriate literature about our activities, as well as a wool rious public hangings of murderers took place spinner. Upstairs, an extremely interesting there. The right of pasturage was eventually display called The Making of High Wycombe ended in 1927: a Local Act of Parliament was well attended, with added interest from the stipulated that henceforth the Rye could be lace makers. used for certain recreational purposes only. Well done, everyone concerned. Which is more or less where we are at today! In the 1960s there was an heroic and gloriously Ann Simone successful battle to keep the A40 Relief Road off the Rye. In 1994 the Society supported a successful battle to prevent the conversion of A Villa, Villeins and Villains the Swimming Pool to a privately run recreation centre. In 2000, the Society objected Such was the title of the exhibition on the to a proposal to convert one of the swimming History of the Rye created by our Hon. pool buildings into an environmental centre – Secretary with the help of other members of with less success, and we await with the Heritage Group for the Society's stand at trepidation to see what the real impact of this this year's Wycombe Show. on the historic Rye will be. Most of us have heard of the remains of the The exhibition received a welcome second Roman villa on the Rye, which were largely lost airing at our quarterly meeting on 18 October, when the swimming pool complex was built in provoking much interest. the 1950s. But it was an eyeopener to find that stone age, bronze age and iron age remains have all been identified in the region of the Rye. Houses in Multiple Occupation Although Julius Caesar is remembered for his Or "HMOs"! On page 3, you will see that there is arrival in 56-55BC, it was a century later in some debate as to how far these should be 41AD that the Roman colonisation of Britain counted in deciding whether Wycombe will meet began. The villa on the Rye was laid out in the its housing targets. But HMOs themselves are 2nd century. It included an unusually large also terrifically controversial. Back in June, and elaborate bath house with a plunge pool. some District Councillors were very sore when The mosaic was re-discovered by workmen in officers advised them that, because the Local 1722. Plan says very little on HMOs, there were no It can be assumed that in the Middle Ages, the legitimate grounds on which applications for Rye was used for pasture. With the founding of HMO conversions in Suffield Road and the Borough of High Wycombe in 1226, Coningsby Road could be turned down. For pasturage was limited to the Burgesses, each future cases, that situation is about to be of whom could graze two cows and one young remedied. The Council is about to hold six calf, during daylight hours. By the 17th weeks' consultation on new Guidance to form an century, this privilege was not limited to amendment to the current Local Plan. As far as burgesses. That was not all that the Rye was we can see, the amendments look helpful and used for, though. In the 18th century, noto- we hope we shall be able to welcome them. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 9 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Quarterly meeting The Work of the Historic Buildings Trust THE QUARTERLY MEETING on 18th October featured Wycombe District Council's Conservation Officer, Martin Andrew, speaking on the work of the Historic Buildings Trust. The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust was House from London Road is one of these. I founded in 1983, following on from an earlier recently visited this excellent Museum, and the system of using a revolving fund of £100,000 to Toll House is now furnished and looking great! renovate and sell on redundant buildings. After I feel that the work of the Bucks Historic the Montague Report, the organisation became Buildings Trust and other similar organisations County-based, using local expertise, and the does not gain the recognition and respect it Bucks HBT is both a registered charity and a deserves from the general public, which seems limited company, with 13 board members. a pity, for without the skills and perseverance The Trust believes there are no problem of the people involved, our towns and villages buildings, just problem owners! One of the would be very much poorer. The Trust makes a most difficult aspects of Mr Andrew's job is valuable contribution to all of our lives, and trying to negotiate with philistine property long may this continue. owners who just don't "get it", who do not see After some excellent slides, Mr Andrew the importance of our built heritage. I guess answered some questions from the floor, and a we've all met a few of those! vote of thanks was offered by Ian Guy. We were treated to some wonderful "before and Denise Lindsay after" slides of rescued buildings, including Amersham Museum, which was originally a 15th Century hall house, with later additions Widmere Chapel is a little-known 13th-14th century including a 17th Century chimney. Another of building incorporated into a farm off the Marlow-Lane the Trust's successes is a rare example of a End Road. Below left: damage caused by the earlier fashion to expose ancient stonework (photo: Martin 14th century cruck frame cottage in Milton Andrew). Below: after protective and appropriate Keynes (the real Milton Keynes, that is!) which rendering, part of an overall scheme to prevent any has been renovated. further deterioration. Bottom: the splendid 13th century undercroft. The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust sees itself as an enabling organisation, offering help (sometimes financial), expertise and advice, e.g. carrying out feasibility studies and essential urgent repairs. The new owners then become responsible for the future upkeep. We were shown examples of the Trust's work in High Wycombe, which includes the Shelburne Memorial in the Parish Church, the former Post Office in Easton Street which has come to life again as Rigs wine bar, and the jolly-looking Café Rouge in Church Square. Some build- ings are relocated to venues such as the Open Air Museum at Chalfont St Giles. The old Toll THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 10 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 "Queen of the Halls" IF YOU had been passing the Friends' Meeting House in London Road on Friday, 3rd of November 2000 and looked in the window, you would have glimpsed an audience in Victorian Costume enjoying "The Life and Times of Marie Lloyd" presented by our member, Annie Woodward. The entire evening was the 'brainchild' of Annie At the peak of her career she was earning huge who has a passion for the Victorian Music Hall sums of money and on some evenings she would and its performers. She joined forces with Myra perform in five Music Halls, travelling between King and friends to put on the evening in order venues in a cab, changing costumes on the way. to raise funds for the continuing work of the We listened and sang along to some of her Pann Mill Restoration Project. famous songs, e.g. "The boy I love is up in the Gallery," "A little of what you fancy does you good," The evening began with the audience rising to and "My old man says follow the van". Her their feet to receive an honoured guest in the successful professional life masked a troubled form of Her Majesty Queen Victoria (aka Karen and painful personal life, with failed marriages in Roberts) who had made a special detour from which she suffered mental and physical abuse at her journey to Windsor Castle after a private visit the hands of her husbands. She died, still to Hughenden earlier that day. Annie then told performing but worn out, at the age of 52 years us about Marie's early cockney childhood in East in 1922. London where Marie had been born on 12th February 1870. She was one of nine children in The presentation concluded with the treat of the family, and together with two of her sisters, hearing an actual recording of Marie singing she took part in many a family entertainment, "Every little movement has a meaning of its own." singing and dancing to entertain relatives. Her Her voice was amazingly strong and powerful name was then Mathilda Victoria Alice Wood – and one could easily imagine, after Annie's she changed her name to Marie Lloyd when she description, the lively personality and character went on the stage as a professional performer. of Marie herself. Annie was warmly applauded In the 1880s the Music Halls were enjoying their for such a splendid talk. heyday but Marie's parents were hardworking Myra King then gave a short history and update East Enders who were appalled when Marie on the Pann Mill Restoration Project. Following wanted to go on the stage of the Music Hall. The the raffle, the best-dressed Victorian lady (Mrs Temperance Movement was very active at this Enid Davis) and gentleman (Mr Paul Taylor) were time and people who frequented and performed presented with prizes. A light supper and social in bars and music halls were considered to be time then concluded a very pleasant evening. very vulgar. Marie, however, was determined to Many thanks to Annie and Co. for their efforts follow her chosen career, and in her mid-teens, which raised a truly amazing £460.25p she started to sing and dance in the bars and (including three much appreciated donations) music halls. Her professional career was very for the Pann Mill Restoration Project. successful and she was a very popular performer with her saucy wink and suggestive comments. Diana Lawson Clockwise from top left: Queen Victoria, Victorian Annie, Victorian Miller Myra, Victorian Chairman with spouse Victorian Diana, Victorian audience, Victorian Peter and Victorian Artist Ian. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 11 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 on (01494) 527978 if you would be interested “In My Opinion…” in supporting the Theatre's work. – Ed. Whose heritage? I attended the Heritage Weekend celebrations Our Show – by Essex Girl in and under The Little Market House on When I was young, in a small village in Essex, Sunday 17 September as a visitor. The crafts the high spot of the year was "The Show". I can and displays were fascinating and all the still remember the smell of the crafts and participants enthusiastic. It was a joy to be produce tent – well-trodden mown grass – all there. It merited a better response from the the flowers and veg. – and feel the atmosphere public and it makes me wonder why other and excitement when we were allowed in after aspects of the town's heritage did not feature in the judging was completed and the eager the weekend's events. anticipation to see what colour awards had High Wycombe surely has many secret been placed on all our efforts. The knitting and treasures to share. Should I badger my local smocking, exquisite crochet and colourful councillors or officials at Wycombe District patchwork, the jams and pickles, sponges and Council for more involvement next time? wine – all the friendly rivalry. Even the children could compete in their classes: the tiny After all, this is not something dreamt up by miniature scores of gardens or palaces made the High Wycombe Society. Heritage Weekend with stones and shells and mirrors, tiny ferns is a national event started by the Civic Trust. and flowers and animals made from odd Other towns participate, why not High shaped vegetables or model aeroplanes. That is Wycombe? what I miss in Wycombe Show. There are stalls Annie Woodward to buy from and events to watch but little to actually participate in. Discovering Marie So I would like, if permitted, to have a small craft competition in the garden at Pann Mill on I would like to say how much Denise and I National Mills Day next year. If the powers that enjoyed Annie Woodward's talk on Marie Lloyd. be will give us the go-ahead and if the WI will I must admit, when Denise suggested we go, I give us the benefit of their expertise and help had never heard of Marie, but after the us with the judging, it could work and would excellent talk, quotes and musical snippets for create more interest in the Mill. So everyone over an hour, at the end I felt I knew Marie should start now to think about their skills, Lloyd as a close friend! sewing, photography, woodcarving, ceramics, calligraphy etc etc in readiness to compete. (Let I found it interesting that she came from us know what you think about this idea. – Ed.) Peerless Street in Hoxton around Shoreditch, a place I go to for work quite often, and driving My more learned friends told me – repeatedly – along Peerless Street will never be the same that this year is not the new millennium – that again. I am surprised Hackney Council have it really starts in January 2001, so I hope this not erected a plaque on her house. I will look will be my millennium project. out for one! The weather was kind to us on Show Day, and It was sad that at only 52 she collapsed on there were plenty of people coming in to see the stage at Edmonton and died two days later. Mill at work and to buy the stone-ground flour. Could this have been Edmonton Regal? Denise There were so many people who remembered informed me once on a trip around there that it coming to the Mill to buy their chicken feed, was a variety theatre but is now a Safeway and lots who had never seen a "real" mill supermarket! Denise was born in Edmonton working before – and lots who wanted to sit and lived just off Tottenham High Road so her down with a cup of tea and a cake in the parents frequented the Regal which later garden and to talk – a lovely day – so here's to became a dance hall. the next open day. Once again an excellent and informative talk Margaret Simmons by Annie Woodward. Support Wycombe Museum! Edmund Lindsay Angela Rees, our Programme Secretary, would Note: Annie herself has written in to express like to draw your attention to several exhibitions her thanks to all those involved – who provided run by Wycombe Museum. Until 7 January you food, donated prizes for the raffle, made very can see Welsh quilts on loan from Ceredigion generous donations, or just came, many in Museum. Until late January there is the "Love It memorable costumes. She adds that in or Loathe It" exhibition at Handy Cross Sports November, she was lucky enough to hear Marie Centre. And starting on 13 January there is a Lloyd's great niece, Miss Haley Birbeck, singing further exhibition of Ron Goodearl's photo- one of Marie's songs, "The boy I love is up in the graphs, this time of people and groups across gallery", at the Players' Theatre. Contact Annie Wycombe District over a 50-year period. THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY 12 NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001 Notices Strong Arms and Legs Needed… New Members …and strong backs would help too! Nearly every event the Society organises seems to involve We warmly welcome the following new members: lifting, moving, stacking and re-arranging, not to mention putting-away. The Membership & Mrs R Bone of Knights Templar Way Publicity Group should not really be expected to Mr K S Davis of Hatters Lane do this – their job is booking space, booking Mrs J Dibb of Grenfell Avenue speakers, getting volunteers for food and coffee, Mr T A Hatton of Bassetsbury Lane and for "manning" the stalls, etc. Miss J H Kay of Hepplewhite Close Are there any stronger people in our Society (not Mrs J Lee of Brands Hill Avenue necessarily men, but it would be nice to have Mr P A Marshall of Buckingham Close some of those around) whom we could call upon Mr C Milton of Hawthorne Road whenever needed? It would not be often. Mrs B A Pathe of Nelson Close If you are shy about putting your hand up in public, please give me your name at the January Obituary 2001 meeting, or phone me on (01494) 448773. We regret to announce the death of: Ann Simone (who Miss Eveline Gadge doesn't have a strong back) We extend our condolences to her family and friends. Have Confidence! Many thanks for those who have put pen to Rocks! paper this quarter. Great to get a page full of letters! But how about some real controversy? At our next Quarterly Meeting on 9th January, Surely something, somewhere, in the Town or in our speaker is Dr Jill Eyres, who will talk to us the Newsletter, gets at least one or two of you about local geology. Geology has made our town steamed up? If so, do write in. People around – the dramatic townscapes, the hills and the here don't bite! And you don't need to type it. river, and the artesian wells, the mills and the beechwoods. Come along to the meeting and Material for the Spring 2001 issue should reach find out more! me at 29 Maybrook Gardens High Wycombe Arrive a little early and enjoy a glass of sherry to HP13 6PJ (01494 528106) by 20 February, welcome the New Year. And you get mince pies please. with your coffee! Chris Woodman (Hon Editor) Put these in your diary now! 2001 Tuesday 9 January 7.45pm Quarterly Meeting: Local Geology. Reggie Goves Centre Speaker: Dr Jill Eyres, Geologist. (See above.) (Sherry, coffee and mince pies to welcome in the New Year.) Tuesday 24 April 7.30pm Quarterly Meeting comprising Annual General Meeting Reggie Goves Centre followed by short reports by each of the Society's Groups. Sunday 13 May National Mills Day. See Pann Mill running again. More Pann Mill details in our Spring Newsletter. Wednesday 23 May 7.45pm Arts Festival Meeting: "Three Chiltern Market Towns – Venue to be decided – see the next Amersham, Chesham and Wycombe." Newsletter or our web site. Speaker: Julian Hunt, County Records and Local Studies Manager, Bucks County Council. No, life on the planet doesn't end on 23 May 2001 – well, we don't think so, anyway – but the steps to complete next year's exciting and absorbing programme were due to be taken just a few days after we went to press! All will become clear in our next issue and, well before that, on our web site (www.highwycombesociety.org.uk).